BIBLE


ARCHAEOLOGY


An Exploration of the History and Culture of Early Civilizations

Alfred Hoerth John McRay





PREFACE    


This book is written with the intention of covering the most significant archaeological data relevant to the people and places named in the Old and New Testaments. The authors' aim is to provide historical, geographical, and literary material that will enrich the knowledge of everyone who is interested in a fuller understanding of the Bible in its cultural setting and thus provide a basis for deeper faith and appreciation for what God has done throughout history to bring about the fulfillment of his promises. It is not the purpose of this volume to debate controversial topics with academicians but rather to provide information for the vast reading public who want to know what archaeology has to contribute to their understanding of, and confidence in, the Bible as the Word of God. For those who want to go a step further in their quest for a deeper understanding of the archaeological data available, each author has written a textbook on the academic level: Alfred Hoerth, Archaeology and the Old Testament, 1998, and John McRay, Archaeology and the New Testament, 1991, both published by Baker Book House. Both authors recently retired  from  Wheaton   College,  where undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biblical Archaeology are offered.


Hoerth taught Old Testament studies at the college for 29 years. Prior to that he was a Research Archaeologist with the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute. Hoerth has made nearly twenty trips to the Mediterranean and Near East, residing there as briefly as one week and for as long as two years. Besides excavating in the United States, he has participated in, or directed, ten excavations in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Sudan, and Syria. He has also taught in seminaries and graduate schools in Costa Rica, Estonia, and Israel.


McRay taught New Testament studies at Wheaton College for 22 years. Prior to that he taught for 20 years in three other schools, which included serving as a professor of Bible at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas,  and David Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, and then as Professor of Religious Studies at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. McRay has made twenty-six trips to the Holy Lands, and has been an area supervisor for eight seasons of excavation at the sites of Caesarea, Maritima,    Sepphoris, and Herodium in Israel. He has lectured internationally on archaeology and the New Testament in Croatia, England, Greece, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Israel, Russia, and Australia.


Alfred Hoerth 

John McRay




ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE BIBLE

Archaeology is by definition the "study of antiquity," and in its quest to recover and better understand earlier civilizations it embraces much more than excavation. Many relevant fields of study, such as language, geography, history, art, geology, biology, and chemistry, are utilized by archaeologists as they reach into the past.


Archaeology is especially valuable in supplying information about objects, places, and activities for which no historical data exist. Sometimes historical records are clarified, or even corrected, by archaeological discoveries.


The investigation of classical sites in the Mediterranean world is a field of inquiry designated Classical Archaeology, while the exploration of sites farther east is called Near Eastern Archaeology. Biblical Archaeology focuses on those areas of both Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology that have biblical relevance.


THE ROLE OF BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY


Biblical Archaeology is a scientific discipline, which, when properly employed, can contribute to the placement of the Old and New Testament narratives in their correct historical and cultural settings for more accurate interpretation of the biblical text. In this respect it can do for Abraham, Moses, Jesus, or Paul what Classical Archaeology does for Alexander the Great or Homer, and Near Eastern Archaeology for Hammurapi or Ramses 11. The milieu in which different peoples of the Bible lived and worked has been greatly illuminated by the discovery of a wide range of cultural evidence: homes, domestic utensils, coins, burials, temples, religious artifacts, public buildings, and weapons of warfare, to mention just a few.


As archaeology helps place biblical characters and events within the stream of extra-biblical history and geography, it answers those who would try to mythologize the Bible. But it must be recognized that it does not "prove" the truth of the Bible in its theological and spiritual statements. The excavation and identification of such biblical sites as Babylon, Caesarea, Corinth, Ephesus, Hazor, and Susa have greatly illuminated our understanding of these ancient cities and their historical settings, but this has not proved the Bible to be the Word of God. A similar, though non-biblical, parallel would be when Heinrich Schliemann's passion to demonstrate the historical accuracy of Homers Iliad led him to search for Troy He did excavate Troy, but he did not prove that the Iliad is true, only that it is historically accurate in its geographical placement of the site.


The Bible does not need confirmation of its theological truths or its historical references in order to do that for which it was written and canonized, that is, to produce faith in the hearts and minds of its readers. The author of the Gospel of John stated his purpose for selecting which materials to include in his writing with these words: "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31).


Archaeology provides a means of looking beneath the soil of contemporary civilization and beyond the limits of twenty-first-century contexts to identify for a time with the world in which the activities of God occurred under his direction. Archaeology is an important tool that enables a person to put on twentieth-century B.C. glasses when reading the story of Abraham, fifteenth-century B.C. glasses when reading about the life and work of Moses, and first-century A.D. glasses when reading the stories of Jesus and his disciples. It is a thrill for the archaeologist to pause occasionally and reflect on the fact that he or she is in the actual place where a biblical event occurred, whether in a valley, on a mountain, by a river, or among the ruins of an ancient city.


ARCHAEOLOGICAL MILESTONES


Since early in the Christian era, people have been fascinated by the history of the eastern Mediterranean countries, regarded by Jews, Christians, and Moslems as the Holy Lands. Helena, mother of Constantine, the first Roman emperor to be a Christian, visited this part of the world in about A.D. 328, and built churches over some of the holiest places. Her visit is recorded by a contemporary historian and friend of the family, Eusebius of Caesarea, and is discussed in church histories written within a century of her death. These records are confusing, some of them claiming that Helena alone constructed the churches, and others that they were built by both Helena and Constantine. But they all agree that the churches were built during the reign of Constantine, a view supported by the archaeological evidence.


Holy places


Eusebius himself made a careful search for the holy places, and left a record of more than one thousand place names in his book Onomasticon, which we have today. In the centuries that followed, pilgrims went to the Holy Lands largely for religious purposes, although occasionally study-visits were made, prompted largely by an interest in history, art, architecture, sculpture, or coins. Efforts to obtain antiquities of this kind amounted to little more than treasure-hunts, having very little scientific value for the archaeologist.


Probably the earliest recorded attempt at what we might properly call archaeological excavation was made on 1 October 1738 at Herculaneum in southern Italy by the Spanish engineer, Rocco Giocchino de Alcubierre, assisted by the Swiss architect, Karl Weber, and later by Francesco La Vega, although these were not excavations in the modern sense of the term.


Herculaneum, like Pompeii, which was first excavated on 23 March 1748 by Alcubierre and Giacopo Martorelli of Naples, was covered when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. The "excavations" consisted of tunneling operations into the hardened mud lava, which was more than fifteen meters (fifty feet) thick in some places. In this way the excavators gained access to underground streets, buildings, and passageways through which they removed many of the precious treasures of the buried city. There was none of the systematic, scientific removal of layers of earth, carefully recorded, measured, drawn, and reported, which characterizes modern archaeological excavations. Pompeii, unlike Herculaneum, rested beneath layers of soft pumice, ash, and earth.


Precious stones


The continuing search for ancient treasure was extended to the Near East in 1799 by the unexpected discovery, by an officer of Napoleon, of a stone with a trilingual inscription. This was the famous "Rosetta Stone" (see page 94). Throughout the nineteenth century, entrepreneurs filled the museums of Europe and the private collections of wealthy sponsors with antiquities taken from the Near East.


Expeditions were also sent to Mesopotamia. Paul Botta ravaged Khorsabad, ten miles north of Nineveh, in 1842, and filled the Louvre in Paris with antiquities from the reign of Sargon II, an Assyrian monarch. Sir Austen Layard, beginning in 1845, surpassed Botta, and filled the British Museum with still greater treasures from Nineveh, from the reign of another Assyrian king, Ashurnasirpal II.


Reading the tablets


However a positive note amidst this plunder of the past was struck between 1846 and 1855 when Sir Henry Rawlinson deciphered the cuneiform script of the Old Persian language on the trilingual Behistun Relief, the "Rosetta Stone of the East" (see page 137). Soon the Elamite and Akkadian languages were also deciphered, and in this way the history of Assyria and Babylonia was opened to the world, through the translation of stone inscriptions and clay tablets, approximately 500,000 of which have now been discovered. Since Palestine itself, the land comprising modern Israel, Jordan, and Syria, seemed to be largely devoid of valuable artifacts, the first scholars there undertook geographical surveys and the identification of ancient sites. Prominent among those who performed this vital work were the Germans Ulrich Seetzen and Johan Ludwig Burck-hardt (1805), the Americans Edward Robinson and EH Smith (1838), and the Britons C. R. Conder and H. H. Kitchener (1872).


Palestinian excavation began in Jerusalem in 1850 with the Frenchman E de Saulcy, but his work was unscientific; he mis-dated the tomb of Helen of Adiabene by 600 years. The British archaeologist Charles Warren worked in Jerusalem from 1867, as did the Frenchman Charles Clermont, but their work was no more scientific than that of de Saulcy.


In 1890, the English Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie worked briefly at Tell Hesi in Palestine and observed that each layer in the tell contained its own unique type of ceramic pottery. By carefully recording the pottery in each layer one could observe the changes in cultural occupation. He saw that some of the pottery had different forms, which he- recognized from his work in Egypt. There he had found similar pottery in contexts which could be dated from inscriptions found at the levels in which the pottery was discovered. In this way originated "ceramic typology," the most important technique in modern Palestinian archaeology for dating stratigraphic levels which do not contain inscriptions or coins. More often than not the pottery had been broken, and the potsherds had to be carefully extracted from the debris and studied for identification and possible reconstruction.


POTS AND DATES


The importance of Perries discovery was almost immediately acknowledged as revolutionary. Since ancient people often made their own pottery, when they moved from one place to another they did not bother to take it with them because it was so inexpensive. Since pottery was virtually imperishable, every layer of a tell contains an abundance of potsherds. Once this was recognized, a chronology based on ceramic typology had to be established so that more precise dates could be given to the changes in pottery styles, which could be distinguished as precisely as changes in car models today.


The man who recognized and met this need was the pre-eminent Near Eastern archaeologist, William Foxwell Albright. Working at Tell Beit Mirsim in southern Palestine from 1926-1932, he was fortunate enough to excavate a well-stratified mound with enough pottery in each stratum to record scientifically the typological and chronological evolution of their major forms. His work remains the basis of all modern ceramic typology, which is constantly being refined by continuing excavation.


Some of the largest excavations in Palestine were carried out before this method of dating had matured, and were for this reason less effective than if they had been conducted later. This is true, for example, of the original excavations at Jerusalem, Samaria, Jericho, Tanaach, Megiddo, Gezer, Lachish, and Hazor. Most of these have been re-excavated since World War 2 by British, American, and Israeli archaeologists.


EXCAVATION


Most excavated sites in the Near East are tells (mounds) that were formed by the successive rebuilding of those sites on the same spot because fresh water was available and the hill on which they were founded was defendable, or perhaps because it was near a main road, or had some religious importance. Surprisingly, it was not until the nineteenth century that the scholarly world became convinced that these mounds were not just natural hills, but that ancient cities were buried within them. Some tells contain twenty or more rebuildings and a variety of reasons account for the successive "living levels": for example, earthquake, fire, war, urban renewal. Like layers of a cake, each new level added another stratigraphical layer to the site's history. When excavating, the archaeologist reads the history of the site from the surface down, from the most recent to the most ancient.


Many sites of classical antiquity, for example, Rome, Ostia, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Corinth, Philippi, Ephesus, Sardis, Pergamon, and Hierapolis, are not tells. The same is true for classical sites in Palestine, such as Caesarea, Jerash, Baalbek, and Petra. Some sites in Palestine, such as Capernaum, Magdala, and Chorazim, simply were not founded on hills or not occupied long enough to generate successive levels of occupation.


Archaeological excavation is not an exact science capable of producing irrefutable evidence for a given hypothesis. If properly conducted, however, it is a unique and comprehensive method of research that employs scientific technology in the excavation, investigation, and evaluation of cultural data. Methods of excavation vary to some degree depending on the size and nature of the site under investigation. However, a general outline of what is involved may be helpful.


One or more directors initiate an archaeological dig. An administrator handles such details as travel arrangements for the team, on-site transportation, housing, and meals. Normally a site will have several areas under excavation at the same time, and each area will have a supervisor.  The supervisor directs the work of volunteers, who do much of the actual excavation. Field architects and photographers record the daily progress, while other specialists, such as botanists, geologists, linguists, and paleontologists, study the excavated materials. The funds necessary to mount an excavation are sometimes provided by interested individuals. On other occasions institutions such as schools, museums, and foundations underwrite the expenses.




ARCHAEOLOGISTS AND THEIR TOOLS



Tools used in excavation typically include picks (including a small hand-held pick called a patish), trowels, brushes, baskets, plumb bobs, and tape measures. Heavy equipment, such as front loaders, back hoes, and bulldozers, is sometimes used, but only when there is sufficient overburden to ensure that there is no danger of damaging important aspects of the site not yet uncovered. Computers and microfiche systems are frequently used on-site to record data and to make reference libraries available in the field.


In recent decades, archaeologists have made use of increasingly sophisticated tools. Both ground and aerial photogrammetry are now employed to produce better maps as well as extremely accurate three-dimensional drawings of  balks,  tomb




[Tell Beth Shan. Beth Shan was an important Canaanite center in the Old Testament (see for example 1 Samuel 31). Archaeologists have found that the tell contains eighteen levels of occupation and despite years of excavation only a small portion of the site has been studied. By New Testament times occupation had shifted to the base of the tell where Scythopolis, in the foreground, spreads out around tell Beth Shan and would also take many years to excavate fully]


facades, and other structures. Laser guided and computerized transits allow faster and more accurate area surveys and architectural drawings to be made. Magnetometers and resistivity instruments locate underground features. Infrared photography can locate stone structures beneath the surface by measuring the different amounts of heat given off by the stones and the soil around them. Neutron activation analysis and "thin section petrographic analyses" of temper and clay content are two ways of determining if pottery was made locally or brought into the area from elsewhere.


Currently, some archaeologists prefer to do regional studies rather than excavate a specific site. Others choose to excavate sites that are small, and perhaps only one or two occupation levels in depth. These smaller sites are more likely to be completely excavated and published within the available time and resources. Some large sites, on the other hand, will probably never be fully, or perhaps even sufficiently, dug. The Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin once estimated that at the rate he was excavating the 200-acre (82-hectare) biblical site of Hazor it would take eight thousand years to finish. How long would it take to completely excavate the eight thousand acres of Caesarea Maritima!


OLD TESTAMENT CHRONOLOGY


There is a tendency to think of ancient history as little more than a stream of dates in which kings ruled or battles were fought. Some dates are, however, a necessary tool.


Excavated Mound



[Archaeologists' squares. Archaeologists generally excavate within 5 or 10 meter squares. (In the Near East archaeologists use the metric system for recording.) The undug perimeters of the squares are called balks. The stratigraphy in their vertical faces is studied to help determine when a new occupation level has been reached within the square. Measurements are taken, both horizontally and vertically, of important artifacts as they are uncovered so that the exact findspots within the square can be plotted on the drawing the field architect makes of each level. Artifacts are tagged with square and level information and placed in appropriate containers to be transported to the field house for cleaning and analysis. The area supervisors prepare detailed descriptions of each day's work]


Without them, for example, it would be impossible in the next chapters to mesh the Bible with extrabiblical history.


Beginning with Abraham, the Old Testament spans some 1,500 years of history. Abraham fits early in what archaeologists call the Middle Bronze Age (c. 2300-1550 B.C.), but conservative scholars are divided over whether he lived in the twenty-second or twentieth century B.C. To take a position on the matter, it is necessary to work back from the firm dates available in the first millennium B.C. Chapter 3 accepts the statement of 1 Kings 6:1 that 480 years elapsed between the Exodus from Egypt and the fourth year of King Solomon's reign, rather than that the time span is erroneous or only symbolic. Solomon's fourth year can be fixed at 967 B.C., and this then gives 1447 B.C. as the date of the Exodus.


The Hebrew of Exodus 12:40 is open to two interpretations, and chapter 4 follows those scholars who take its 430-year time-span to encompass both the Patriarchal period and the Egyptian sojourn, rather than only the Egyptian sojourn. This choice puts Joseph into the Hyksos period, when upward mobility in society was more possible than had previously been the case. Additionally, Joseph rode in a chariot (Genesis 41:43), and chariots were not introduced into Egypt until the time of the Hyksos. If 1 Kings 6:1 and Exodus 12:40 are understood this way, the beginning of Abrahams life (chapter 2) occurred during the chaotic years of the Isin-Larsa period. Terah would have had good reason to move his family out of southern Mesopotamia during that turbulence.


The exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Palestine both fall within the Late Bronze Age (c. 1550-1200 B.C.). The period of the Judges extends from Late Bronze into the Iron period (c. 1200-1000 B.C.). Some scholars have faulted the Bible for not naming the pharaohs involved with Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, and have used this silence as evidence that the Bibles early history is suspect. Egyptologists have, however, established that until the tenth century B.C. the title "pharaoh" stood alone in Egyptian texts. It was only then that the title began to be followed by the name of the specific king. The biblical writers were simply following Egyptian precedent. Shishak is the first Egyptian pharaoh to be named in the Bible (1 Kings 11:40). In 925 B.C. his army marched into Palestine (1 Kings 14:25).


Until the first millennium B.C. (largely Iron II and 11I in archaeological terms), the Bible contains only a handful of date pegs. Then, by contrast, the books of Kings and Chronicles are very rich in chronological detail. The years of reign for all the kings of Judah and Israel are given; often with synchronisms between the two countries. Some events are placed within a specific year of a king's reign, and some are recorded in both the Bible and extrabiblical history. But when this wealth of information is carefully studied, various disharmonies seem to exist within the biblical text. Charges of "obvious error" were raised by liberal scholars, and "corrected" chronologies were proposed.


Then in the 1950s the scholar Edwin R. Thiele demonstrated that the Old Testament followed several chronological practices in use in the ancient Near East. For example, when a king died he was awarded full credit for the year of his death. Depending on the system then in vogue, his successor would either wait until the next full year to begin counting the years of his reign (the accession year system), or he would claim the partial year in which he took the throne as his first year (the non-accession system). In the non-accession system both the dead king and the new king were given credit for the same calendar year, thus creating an artificial year in the records. Thiele was able to identify when the non-accession system was in use in the Old Testament.


Kings in the ancient Near East sometimes had their sons join them on the throne so that the heir apparent could gain experience in how to govern. The king also hoped the "coregency" would lessen the likelihood of a struggle over the throne when he died. The problem this practice created for chronology is that in the official records both father and son were given full credit for the years of coregency. Thiele determined when co-regencies occurred within the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah and where overlaps in years of reign need to be recognized. Thieles application of these and the other chronological principles to the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah, known as "Thieles chronology," has been accepted by both conservative and liberal scholars.



NEW TESTAMENT CHRONOLOGY



Most of the time between the Old and New Testaments consisted of what has historically been designated the Hellenistic period and cover the years between the conquests of Alexander the Great (332 B.C.) and the emergence of the power and influence of Rome in the mid-first century B.C. The Republic of Rome, which was founded in 509 B.C., eventually became an empire under Augustus Caesar (Octavian), after he defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C.


The Roman period lasted until the emergence of the Byzantine period in A.D. 325 under the emperor Constantine. Fourteen Roman emperors reigned during the approximately one hundred years of New Testament history.

The life and death of Jesus


Augustus reigned as emperor from 27 B.C. until A.D. 14, and Jesus Christ was born during that time: Luke writes that it was in the days of "Caesar Augustus" that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem from Nazareth to be enrolled in a census of the Roman empire (Luke 2:1-7). A study of the chronology of the life of Jesus as revealed in the first four books of the New Testament is limited by the fact that the first thirty years of his life are passed over in virtual silence (Luke 2:40, 52; 3:23), and only about forty days of his public career of three and a half years are identifiable. It can be known that he was born before 4 B.C., because Matthew writes that he was "born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king" (Matthew 2:1), and Herod (the Great) died in that year, having reigned from 37 B.C. Our modern designations of B.C. and A.D. are therefore somewhat inaccurate. Jesus was "about thirty years of age" when he began his ministry (Luke 3:23), and judging from the number of Passovers mentioned in the Gospel of John, he lived another three years before being crucified. This chronology thus places the date of his death as approximately A.D. 30.


(JESUS  WAS  BORN  5  B.C.  AND  DIED  ON  THE  CROSS  30  A.D.  A  STUDY  ON  THIS  WEBSITE  PROVES  THE  TRUTH  -  "WHEN  WAS  JESUS  BORN"  -  Keith Hunt)




Paul


The chronology of most of the New Testament is primarily based on a study of the life of the apostle Paul as recorded in the book of Acts and his letters. Four historical/archaeological pinpoints must be considered in working with Pauline chronology. These pinpoints provide a comparatively secure basis on which to build an understanding of Paul's movements:


(1) The death of Aretas IV, king of Nabatea in A.D. 40 (2 Corinthians 11:32$ Acts 9:23-25).


(2)  The expulsion of Jews from Rome by Claudius in A.D. 49 (Acts 18:2).


(3)  Gaflio's proconsulship in Achaia began in May/June, A.D. 51 (Acts 18:12).


(4)  Procuratorship of Festus in Judea began in May/June, A.D. 56 (Acts 24:27).



1. Paul's Visit to Jerusalem 

Galatians 1:18 states that Paul visited Jerusalem three years after his conversion, which, according to Acts, took place during his mission of persecution to Damascus. This visit would not likely have happened before A.D. 38: Josephus states that the high priest in Jerusalem had authorized Paul's mission and was still in office at the time of the mission (this high priest will have been either Joseph Caiaphas or Jonathan), but in A.D. 37, during the feast of Passover, the Roman general Vitellius deposed Caiaphas, replacing him with Jonathan, the son of Ananus the high priest. A few weeks later, during Pentecost, general Vitellius deposed Jonathan and replaced him with Jonathans brother Theophilus. This   would have allowed Paul to return to Jerusalem without having to confront the man who gave him letters of authority for his mission. A terminus ad quern for Paul's visit would be A.D. 40, because according to coins and inscriptions, Aretas IV died in that year. Paul had escaped from Damascus and gone to Jerusalem while Aretas was still alive (Acts 9:25; 2 Corinthians 11:32), thus before A.D. 40.


2. The Expulsion of Jews from Rome 

The second important pinpoint in Pauline chronology is provided by Luke's statement in Acts 18:2 that when Paul arrived in Corinth on his second journey he found Aquila and Priscilla, Jews who had "recently" come from Rome "because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome." This expulsion is also referred to by ancient Roman authors, such as Suetonius and Orosius, and can be dated to A.D. 49.


3. Gallio's Proconsulship 

The third pinpoint of Pauline chronology relates to this same missionary journey, which included an eighteen-month stay in Corinth (Acts 18:11). At the end of that time, Paul's Jewish opponents brought him before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia, presumably seeing Gallio's recent appointment as a fresh opportunity for a "united attack" on the apostle (Acts 18:12). Their charge had to do with Paul's supposed violations of Jewish law, a matter about which Gallio was little concerned (Acts 18:15).


The discovery at Delphi, across the Corinthian Gulf from Corinth, of four inscribed stone fragments, which contain information about the accession of Gallio, helps us to determine the date of his tenure in office. The fragments are from a copy of a letter sent from the Roman emperor Claudius to the city of Delphi, either to the people of Delphi or to Gallio's successor. These fragments contain the names of both

Gallio and Claudius with dates for the reign of Gallio.


The letter is dated to A.D. 52, and, since consuls normally held office for one year and were required to leave Rome for their posts not later than the middle of April, Gallio probably began his term of office in May of A.D. 51. And since Paul had arrived in Corinth eighteen months earlier than his appearance before Gallio (Acts 18:11), he would have entered Corinth in the winter of 49/50—perhaps in January of A.D. 50. This would coincide well with the "recent" arrival of Priscilla and Aquila from Claudius' expulsion in A.D. 49.


4. The Procuratorship of Festus 

The fourth pinpoint of Pauline chronology is the date when Festus succeeded Felix as procurator of Palestine (Acts 24:27). A coin has been found with micrographic writing on it that gives the date of Festus' accession as A.D. 56. This would mean that Paul stood before Festus (Acts 24:27) in the spring (perhaps May) of A.D. 56, and that he had arrived in Jerusalem at the end of his third journey two years earlier. Some scholars, however, have placed the date a year later, in A.D. 57. This would mean that Paul's death in Rome a few years later would likely have been near the end of the reign of the emperor Nero, who died in A.D. 68.

The apostle John


The latest point of chronology related to the New Testament has to do with the life of the apostle John and his writings. Early Christian literature firmly places him on the island of Patmos during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian (81-96) and in Ephesus during the reign of Nerva (96-98). Eusebius, who wrote his history of the early church in the fourth century, places John in Ephesus at the time of his death during the reign of Trajan (98-117; Ecclesiastical History, JJJ 20.8-9; 23.1-4; 31.3).


Roman Emperors of the New Testament period  

Augustus 27B.C. - A.D. 14

Tiberius 14-37

Gaius Caligula 37-41

Claudius 41-54

Nero 54-68

Galba 68-69

Otho 69

Vitellius 69

Vespasian 69-79

Titus 79-81

Domitian 81-96

Nerva 96-98

Trajan 98-117

Hadrian 117-138

……….

TO  BE  CONTINUED